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Elmer Hinckley Fishing Tackle - Established 1877

Elmer Hinckley was a businessman and farmer in Naples, a small community in the finger lakes region of New York State in the late 1800s. He had a passion for hunting and fishing and was a charter member of the Naples Fish and Game Protective Association. Elmer Hinckley Fishing Tackle grew out of a hunting accident in 1875 when Elmer lost an eye. His wife Adelaide put an end to his hunting, and fishing became his sport of choice .

The fishing tackle business grew out of the desire to catch more and larger fish for the fishing contests that occurred each year on Canandaigua Lake. It is true that the coin silver teaspoons with their handles cut off offered a challenge to many fish when fitted with a hook and trolled slowly. But soon the housewives put a stop to having their valued silverware used for sport fishing. The fishermen searched for a similar product that they could create themselves. There were three Hinckley brothers, plus Scott Sutton, Skip Pierce, and an Adams, all of whom were imaginative enough to come up with products that produced results. Each had their secrets about weight, materials used, and shaping of the product. The shaping needed to provide a movement very similar to the fish’s swimming movement in the water. Elmer founded his company in 1877.

Scott Sutton produced a spinner that was successful and which was sold for many years. The others all produced something similar to the coin silver teaspoon bowls – what we call today FLUTTER LURES. Elmer won many prizes in fishing contests, and after a year or two he made up a few dozen of his lures and went to Keuka lake. There, after catching a worthwhile stringer of fish, he would take them to the nearby store to have them weighed. He was usually asked where and on what lure did he catch the fish, and he would introduce his lures and sell them on the spot. His fame soon spread, and he sold lures to a large sporting goods store in Ithaca; this was his major customer for a number of years. With the increased interest in fishing around the Finger Lakes, small bait stores opened and offered Hinckley lures to the fishermen.

When Elmer died in 1915, neither of his sons were interested in continuing the business, but his daughter, Mabel, tried her hand and built up quite a mail order sales business. Lures were produced as the orders arrived, and everything was done by hand. Mabel ran the operation for about 40 years and upon her death, the company was taken over by her daughter and son-in-law, Mary and Carl Misel. The company was moved to Troy, New York. Carl invented ways to make much of the production process easier and less time consuming, and the product more uniform. Plating had always been an “out-of-house” job, but Carl worked at it and became very proficient in the art, and the company was now a total “In-House Operation”.

Old age comes to all, and Carl and Mary wished to retire. Son Charles and his wife Caroline purchased the company in 1983 and moved it to Pine City, Minnesota, where they continued as the fourth generation. In addition to the lures, Elmer Hinckley produced the Starport Trolling System of Trolling Boards, the Starport Board, the Walleye Trolling Ski, and Starport Line Releases. The Great Lakes region employed these products, as did the walleye fishermen on the smaller bodies of water in that area. Many lures still went back to New York State as well as to Europe and Asia.

Each generation of owners has increased the number of lure sizes and produced custom made products for their customers. Each has also done something to make the production easier and faster.

Elmer’s was a “sell as you catch fish” business. Daughter Mabel had a mail order service. Mary continued the mail order service in Troy and added wholesale distributors and direct mail order, working with guides on Lake George and Lake Champlain and in the Adirondacks, and fishermen from all over came to the house to buy lures. Charlie and Caroline also did wholesale and direct mail order, participated in fishing shows, and worked with guides throughout the U.S. The lures began as handcrafted items, and they still are today. Each lure is given individual attention to make it the best possible fishing lure for the consumer and, most importantly – for the fish.

After the passing of Charles Misel, Peter and Sarah Narkiewicz bought the business. Once again the original dies and equipment made their way back to New York State, where they are located today.

It is interesting to note that, of the six original makers of lures in Naples, New York, two have survived – the Sutton Company of Naples and the Elmer Hinckley Fishing Tackle Company of Hartford, New York.

We wish you successful fishing with Elmer Hinckley lures that have been manufactured and used for over 135 years. Remember, “FISH PREFER ELMER HINCKLEY LURES”. Practice catch and release and leave some fish for tomorrow and for tomorrow’s kids.

For a free pamphlet of Hinckley lures, write to Elmer Hinckley Fishing Tackle, 56 Deer Run Way, Hartford, New York 12838, or telephone 518-632-5079.